Blood loss and the need for transfusion in patients who undergo partial or radical nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma

Oleg Shvarts, Ke Hung Tsui, Robert B. Smith, Jean B. De Kernion, Arie Belldegrun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We assessed blood loss and subsequent transfusion associated with nephrectomy performed for suspected renal cell carcinoma to establish guidelines for preoperative autologous blood donation and identify a subgroup of patients that may benefit from erythropoietin administration. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the charts of 211 patients who underwent partial (73%) or radical (23%) nephrectomy for presumed renal cell carcinoma at our institution between 1990 and 1999. Patients were divided into groups 1 - 44.5% treated with radical nephrectomy for localized disease, 2 - 21.3% radical nephrectomy for metastatic lesions invading the renal vasculature or inferior vena cava, 3 - 8% radical nephrectomy for metastatic disease with locally extensive lesions and 4 - 26.5% partial nephrectomy for localized lesions. Patient charts were evaluated for preoperative and postoperative hematocrit, estimated blood loss, transfusions received, surgical complications and underlying disease. Results: Median estimated blood loss was 200, 400, 250 and 555 cc in groups 1 to 4, respectively. However, patients in groups 2 and 3 had a substantially greater range of blood loss than those in groups 1 and 4, respectively. The incidence of those with a blood loss of greater than 11. was 7%, 36%, 24% and 11% in groups 1, to 4, respectively. The incidence of those requiring transfusion was significantly lower in group i than in groups 2 to 4 (18% versus 44%, 24% and 30%, respectively, p <0.009). Mean transfusion requirement plus or minus standard deviation was significantly greater in groups 2 and 3 than in 1 and 4 (2.3 ± 1.08, 5.5 ± 4.4, 11.3 ± 9.6 and 2.3 ± 1.7 units, respectively, p <0.05). No significant difference was noted in the change in hematocrit as a result of surgery in the 4 groups (p >0.05). Similarly underlying disease and operative complications did not have a significant effect on blood loss or transfusion (p >0.05). Conclusions: Radical or partial nephrectomy for localized renal cell carcinoma leads to consistent and well tolerated operative blood loss that rarely results in the need for substantial transfusion. In contrast, nephrectomy for advanced disease may cause a risk of greater blood loss and subsequent need for the transfusion of multiple units of blood. While preoperative autologous blood donation may have limited value in this regard due to the high cost and number of units needed, preoperative erythropoietin administration may be a viable option. Prospective randomized studies are currently planned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1163
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Autologous
  • Blood transfusion
  • Carcinoma
  • Kidney
  • Nephrectomy
  • Renal cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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